Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Black Leopard Spotted In Kenya

Melanistic leopard Melanistic leopard
Andrew Cummings | 14 February, 2019, 02:36

After finding tracks, Pilford setup a Camtraptions Camera Trap for several nights until he captured a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness.

The creature - which nearly has a mythical status - was captured by British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, 35, while it was prowling around the plains of Kenya in the dead of night with a full moon looming above.

Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas had heard murmurs about the potential presence of a black leopard roaming the area when he set up camp in Kenya.

"My ears pricked up and I contacted the owners Steve and Annabelle Carey to find out more".

This is the first time that one has been caught on camera in Africa for 100 years. "That was enough for me and I made a decision to invest some time in checking it out", he writes. He used a series of motion sensors, which wirelessly triggered high quality digital cameras and two or three flashes. "If you saw them, you didn't take it".

The rare melanistic black leopard was photographed by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas who later posted the pictures on his website.

"I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

The images were captured by researchers from the San Diego Zoo who have been studying leopards in the Loisaba wildlife conservancy, as well as an independent photographer working in the region at the same time.

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They are believed to be the first images of the animal in more than 100 years.

It took about four days before he finally got his big break and captured a wild black leopard, an accomplishment that hasn't been equalled in possibly a century.

Melanism is the opposite of albinism, and is classified as an extremely rare condition.

The leopard's coat is pitch black as a result of melanism, a gene mutation that causes an over-production of pigment, said Pilfold.

Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Annabelle Carey was audibly excited when asked about the rare sighting of the melanistic leopard close to their camp. For example, the researchers noted that a different subspecies of black leopard is much more common than lighter spotted ones in certain parts of Asia.

A black leopard is defined as the melanistic colour variant of any big cat species.

The sightings in arid Laikipia County are particularly significant as black panthers have previously been spotted more commonly in dense forest, where the darker leopards' camouflage would appear to be most effective.

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